EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ‘We were far from our usual self’
Al Rayyan players, technical and administrative staff as well as fans were crestfallen after they went down fighting 2-3 to Al Gharafa in the QSL Cup final at the Qatar SC Stadium on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with QSL Online, Al Rayyan Football head Ali Salem Afifa admitted they were not at their best in the final and that undermined the good efforts they made throughout the tournament.
In fact, Al Rayyan were the first team to qualify for the semifinals with an unbeaten record and final-round match to spare. They made the cut as Group B winners with 13 points (four wins and one draw). The Lions were convincing during their 2-0 semifinal victory over Al Kharaitiyat too.
“Unfortunately, our players disappointed us in the final. The rather slow pace of our game may have been due to the lack of physical fitness of some players.
“When you lose in the final of a championship, that’ll adversely affect your performance in the following few matches. We must avoid that,” he said.
He stressed that Al Rayyan did not perform to their potential and the team management would seek reasons for the defeat.
“It’s good that we’ve a break before the QNB Stars League resumes, so we can identify and rectify the errors.
“Before we talk about strengthening the side or changing some players, they’ve to play to their potential. I would be the first to praise the players if they fare well and still lose. That didn’t happen here,” he added.
Asked whether the penalty missed by captain Rodrigo Tabata resulted in Al Rayyan’s loss, Ali Salem said, “Any player may miss penalty and that’s natural in football. But the main reason was that we were far from our usual self.”